Politics and policy

Muthaura lawyer denies claims of witness coercion

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    Former Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura (centre) with his legal team headed by Karim Khan (right) at a news conference at the Serena Hotel on Wednesday. Mr Muthaura issued a statement after the ICC dropped a case against him. Photo/Phoebe Okall

Former Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura (centre) with his legal team headed by Karim Khan (right) at a news conference at the Serena Hotel on Wednesday. Mr Muthaura issued a statement after the ICC dropped a case against him. Photo/Phoebe Okall 

By George Omondi

Posted  Wednesday, March 13  2013 at  20:20

In Summary

  • Karim Khan says charges dropped because they were built on weak evidence.
  • ICC lead prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told judges that she was withdrawing all charges against Mr Muthaura because of bribery and intimidation of witnesses.
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The legal team of former head of the Civil Service Francis Muthaura has shrugged off claims of bribery and intimidation of witnesses, following the International Criminal Court’s withdrawal of crimes against humanity charges facing him.

Karim Khan, the lead lawyer on the defence team, said on Wednesday in Nairobi that the charges against Mr Muthaura were built on weak evidence and had to be withdrawn after a key witness recanted his testimony that the ICC had used to build its case.

“The fact that the prosecution retained summonses and never sought an arrest warrant against Mr Muthaura means the claims of bribery and intimidation are just a smokescreen,” Mr Khan said at a Press briefing.

The witness, he added, voluntarily met the defence team and offered to speak the truth. “The ICC prosecutor had no case and had to take the bold step after the witness admitted having lied about Mr Muthaura and Mr Uhuru Kenyatta.”

On Tuesday, ICC lead prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told judges that she was withdrawing all charges against Mr Muthaura because of bribery and intimidation of witnesses as well as limited co-operation from the government.

The move reduced to three the number of Kenyans facing crimes against humanity charges at The Hague, down from six.

The ICC accused Mr Muthaura, together with President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta and former head of police Hussein Ali, of aiding crimes including murder, rape, and deportation that erupted after the disputed 2007 polls.

Deputy President-elect William Ruto, journalist Joshua Sang and Industrialisation minister Henry Kosgey also faced similar charges.

Once ICC judges approve the application to drop the case, Mr Muthaura will join Mr Kosgey and Mr Ali, whose cases had crumbled earlier.

Mr Muthaura stepped aside from his position as Head of Civil Service and Secretary to the Cabinet in January last year after the ICC confirmed criminal charges against him.

On Wednesday, Mr Khan said it was unfair for the prosecution to blame the government of frustrating the case yet it relied on evidence produced by the Waki Commission and the National Security Intelligence Service.

“I am relieved, but I am not celebrating. The ICC case broke my heart,” said Mr Muthaura.

He said that he was disappointed that justice had been abused by “those charged with respecting and safeguarding it.”

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